Friday, April 30, 2010

Saigon Fell 35 Years Ago, but Its Legacy Endures


Saigon Fell 35 Years Ago, but Its Legacy Endures

Updated: 3 hours 3 minutes ago

(April 30) -- The signal went out at dawn, April 29, 1975 -- Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" on Armed Forces Radio.

Across Saigon, the music set Americans moving toward the U.S. Embassy and a parking lot at Tan Son Nhut air base, where they crammed themselves and whatever they could carry into helicopters sent from Navy ships off the coast.

The final "rush to the door," as the Wall Street Journal put it at the time, was on: 150,000 North Vietnamese troops were on the outskirts of the city, with nothing in the way of their advance.

Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975
Dirck Halstead, Liaison Agency / Getty Images

People flee as Saigon falls to North Vietnam in April 1975.
At 8:35 the next morning -- 35 years ago today -- the last U.S. helicopter and 10 Marines lifted off from the embassy roof. Just over two hours later, a red and blue Viet Cong flag was hoisted above what had been South Vietnam's presidential palace. The war was history.

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